Riverbanks Adventure Forum

July 15, 2009

Dramatic Panoramic Overlook, Hiking Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah is Worth the Day Trip!

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

 We were on our way to Moab, Utah from Grand Junction Colorado and arrived much earlier than anticipated.  I remember visiting Dead Horse Point State Park 13 years ago and felt it would be a nice little side trip to keep us busy until our Hotel check-in time!  We pulled out the atlas and headed out for some adventure. 

The park has changed since my last visit but for the better I assure you.  The park fee is now $5 to get in but the experience is well worth the money.  They have this really nice visitor center that is stocked with toys, outdoors books and other keepsakes to remember your visit.  The center has an interpretive guide and the rangers are more than helpful with the site map and the rim hike.  I was extremely pleased with the quality of this State Park and its visitor center.  Very clean and well maintained. Coming from Florida’s Gold Medal winning State Parks, I would say the Utah is ready to give them a run for their money and then some!

After refreshing ourselves in the visitor center, we proceeded outside to hike the trail and enjoy the view.  Right off the parking lot we spotted two female mule deer grazing on the bushes.  I would have to say that was a very unexpected pleasure!  We were able get within several feet of them before they felt uncomfortable and scurried across the parking lot. 

 Female Mule Deer

Female Mule Deer

From that moment I can only say that our experience got better!  Because of the 97 degree heat we decided to only hike 1.5 miles of the 4 mile loop.  The trails along the rim were well kept and had stone wall barriers that allowed us to get right up to the edge of the 2000 foot gorge.   We were very lucky to have such clear blue skies that day and it made for the absolutely spectacular views over the vast canyons! 

Green River at Dead Horse Point State Park

Green River at Dead Horse Point State Park

Man's Face in Cliff Wall at Dead Horse Point State Park

Man's Face in Cliff Wall at Dead Horse Point State Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Horse Point State Park it a 5300+ acre park that stands on a rock peninsula overlooking the Green River.  This scenic rim trail sits on the edge of Canyon Lands National Park and on a clear day views can boast up to 50 miles into the park!  This area received its name from the old western Wranglers driving the wild mustangs out to this point to corral them.  Dead Horse Point State Park lies approximately 30 miles outside of Moab, Utah.  Despite its dark past, the scenery is breathtaking and certainly worth the day trip!

 

Guide Book

National Geographics Guide to State Parks of the United States, 2nd Edition

July 12, 2009

Spectacular Views! Family Friendly Trail – Ride Monitor and Merrimac ATV Trail, Utah

ATV Ride Monitor & Merrimac Trail, Utah

ATV Ride Monitor & Merrimac Trail, Utah

Scenic Monitor & Merrimac ATV Trail

Scenic Monitor & Merrimac ATV Trail

On our way out to Utah to experience an overnight rafting trip on the Colorado River, we arrived a few days early to experience the desert surrounding Moab.  We found Moab Tour Company online for ATV rentals.  I called and booked the trip several months in advance and explained to them that I will be carrying a passenger and the other party was not very experienced on the ATV.  They assured us that was fine and they had the perfect trail for us! 
Anxious about the trip, I called again a few days before arrival to verify reservations and they were ready for us.  My experience with ATV’s is mostly Florida sand, mucky water pits, and Georgia Clay.  Riding in the desert amongst the protruding deep red sandstone Buttes and Mesas, over rocks, and sand was something I only dreamed about! 
They set me up was a two passenger Can Am Outlander 4×4 ATV, full electronic shifting and power steering.  It was not the same as my Honda Foreman but I was up for trying out a new ride!  My childhood friend of 35 years flew in from Ohio and was adventurous enough to ride with us. She rode a Honda Fourtrex 300 which also provided electronic shifting. 
Passenger on a Climbing Break

Passenger on a Climbing Break

ATV on Monitor & Merrimac Trail

ATV on Monitor & Merrimac Trail

Perfect size for a first timer but could also handle the terrain!   Our guide Stephen took the time to explain the vehicles and let us “play” around in the parking lot until we were comfortable. 
When we arrived at the trail-head, rain clouds were forming.  I decided to swap out my trustee Canon Power shot for a Pentax Optio waterproof 10 MP camera that I planned to try out on the rafting trip.  We did get a little sprinkle and the photos turned out better than expected.  Off we rode up the old switchback jeep trail to ascend into the desert terrain.    We rode on a combination of slick rock (hardened sandstone) and red sandy trail as we passed breathtaking red buttes and Mesa’s on either side of us.  
The slick rock was named by the early ranchers that rode in Conestoga wagons with iron rimmed wheels. The Horse’s shoes and wagon wheels slid on this smooth hardened sandstone making their travels rough.  On rubber tires, this slick rock has the complete opposite affect.  It should be renamed Stick rock!  The rubber tires nicely grip the surface allowing for increased traction on inclines.  When going down a steep slope, it is normal to brake…but on slick rock braking could cause an endo over the front handle bars if your not careful.  I found letting off the throttle was all that was needed on these slick rock downhills. 
ATV Riding on Slick Rock

ATV Riding on Slick RockRiding Scenic Monitor & Merrimac Trail

After a while we were like One with our machines and comfortable with the terrain.  We were buzzing along blissfully without a care – almost too good to be true.  And it was!   As we came out of a wash, we spotted two little girls, ages 12 & 8, waving us down the side for help.  Apparently they were not too far from camp but had put a Grizzly 700 into a ditch.  We comforted the two girls as they told us their story.  Our guide was the hero as he skillfully worked that machine out of the ditch and the prickly bush  that cushioned their crash.  We took them 1.5 miles back to thier camp where their parents gratefully offered thanks and appreciation.  The trail was fun but it felt good to help someone in this harsh terrain.  We silently rode back to the trail head feeling good.  We all had a great day! 
Click here or more photos.
 
 
About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store  for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

July 3, 2009

Parents: How to make a Ghillie Suit for your kids on a budget!

Homade Ghille Suit

Homade Ghillie Suit

My thirteen year old son and his friends have been playing the all popular outdoor Manhunt Game for a couple of years now. Manhunt is the teenage version of hide-n-seek or kick-the-can (for those of you who can remember) with teams of players.  One team protects the base and the other team attempts to get back to base without getting caught.  They have developed complex strategies.  They prefer to play in the evening and sometimes they use flashlights.  Well we have watched our weekly Man-Hunt game evolve from 6 to sometimes 30 players.  The yard plus the adjacent neighbors is no longer sufficient. They have moved to the local Recreation Center that offers a small woodsy area with Florida natural terrain in which to hide.  Oak and Saw Palmetto bushes abundant. 

Well now it is time to take this Man-Hunt to the next level. My son decided that he wanted a Ghillie Suit for the next match.  We drive down to the army-navy surplus store to pick up some netting that is used for camouflaging in the army.  We had two panels cut.  One is the under layer with a hole for his head.  This drape around his shoulder and covers his arms.  The other panel was the outer panel in which the art of camouflage was needed.  We picked up some Jute to add that all natural color and some brown and green string at a local craft store.  The string had the thickness and the consistency of a shoelace.  Because we are in Florida, we felt that Spanish moss was a must.  We also supplemented with some green and brown died mossed that we interspersed throughout the netting.  Lastly we needed some natural foliage.  I told my son to go find something out back.  He needs to think this through. He knows the terrain in which he is trying to hide and he should make the Ghillie suit mimic the natural surroundings in which he plans to hide.  He made me proud! He came back with two saw palmetto branches. One was dead and one was green.   Perfect..those are EVERYWHERE in Florida and the imperfect branches made it more natural. We randomly attached our moss and palmetto leaves with the natural looking Jute string until the net was sufficiently covered.   It is recommended that you roll around in the dirt and leaves to give it that natural rugged look.  It is also more effective if you wearbrown, green, or camouflage clothing underneath the suit

Hiding in Ghille Suit..Try to find him...note he has on red shorts!

Hiding in Ghillie Suit..Try to find him...note he has on red shorts!

Now we are satisfied with the Ghillie suit and it is time to put it to the test.  “Momma, I am going to hide you need to come and find me.”  Off into the woods he went.  A few minutes later I went looking for him.  I may have over looked him the first two times..but the red shorts caught my eye eventually! “I see you honey.  That looks really good!”

The whole project may have cost just under $40 and two hours to create it.  Money and time well spent to satisfy the imagination of a child!  If the Ghille suit lasts, you may even be able to use it as a Halloween Costume.  Wouldn’t you have FUN wearing that to the office!

Ghille Suit supplies

Ghillie Suit supplies

 

 

History:  The Scottish game keepers were the first to create the Ghillie suit to allow them to hunt blind (hunting with a cover device so as not to be detected).  Their nickname was the Ghillies: hence the name Ghillie suit. They originally used strips of burlap tied to their clothing to hide them. Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed by the British Army during the Second Boer War, is the first known military unit to use ghillie suits. In 1916, this allowed the beginnings of the first sniper unit.  Now Ghillie suits are a standard part of the army camouflage tactics.

June 20, 2009

Visit Wooten’s for an Overall Everglades Family Adventure

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Boy holding Alligator at Wooten's

Wooten's Airboat Tour

Wooten's Airboat Tour

Wooten’s Airboat Everglades Adventuresoffers the best overall experience of the Florida Everglades.  Wooten’s,  located in the town of Ochopee, FL off US 41, offers an Air-boat tour through the mangroves to see bromelaids, air-plants, alligator, Great Blue Heron and other Florida birds in their natural habitat. The intricate root system of the Mangroves are an important part of the Everglades ecosystem offering erosion protection from waves and hurricanes as well as shelter for fish, crustaceans and shellfish. They also host large variety of organisms, including algae, barnacles, oysters, sponges, and bryozoans.  Mangroves are a unique plant with an ability to actually extract the fresh water from the salt water.  

Alligator on the side of Parking Lot

Alligator on the side of Parking Lot

Wooten's Alligator Show

Wooten's Alligator Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along the Air-boat tour, it would be rare not to see an alligator. If you are down in Florida during the cooler months you will probably see an alligator from the parking lot. The staff is so used to living with alligators they do not seem to be alarmed if one is underfoot.  Do not try this at home!

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Wooten's Staff w/ Inconspicuous Gator

Wooten’s also offers a Swamp Buggy Ride through the Big Cypress Swamp to see natural flora and fauna of the Everglades such as Strangler Fig Tree, beautiful Orchids, Air-plants, Ferns, Pop Ash, and Willows and wildlife such as bobcats, panthers, snakes, North American crocodiles, alligators, turtles and deer in their natural habitat.  Swamp Buggies were invented in the early 1930’s as a means to hunt and navigate the wetlands prior to the invention of the air-boat and are still commonly used today.

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Wooten's Swamp Buggy Bus

Don’t forget to take time to visit the Alligator and Wildlife park.  Wooten’s is a sanctuary for Florida endangered species. They host several endangered American Crocodile and the Florida Panther along with hosting several alligators, a tiger, otters and a large live snake exhibit.  At the back of the park there is a periodic alligator show put on by one of the Wooten’s trained staff.  At the end show the more adventurous visitors can actually hold a small alligator.   To my surprise, the alligator skin is one of the smoothest and softest skins of any reptile.

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

June 14, 2009

Summer Family Fun! Fossil Hunting the Peace River, Florida

 

Fossils from the Peace River, Florida

Fossils from the Peace River, Florida

If you are looking for an adventure to share with the kids, a nice way to stay cool and still be outdoors is paddling  the Peace River panning for fossils.  Watching the excitement on children’s faces with each fossil that is uncovered is pure joy.  It is amazing that some of these specimens are 12 million years old!

The Peace River in the southwestern part of the Florida Peninsula is well known for its prehistoric finds mainly from the Pleistocene (2 million years ago) and Miocene (12-28 million years ago) eras.  Due to its slow current, the Peace River is one of the few places in Florida were the fossils found here can be very well preserved.

Fossil Hunting in the Peace River, Wachula FL

Fossil Hunting in the Peace River, Wachula FL

If you are new to fossil hunting, Fossil Expeditions run by author Mark Renz of Fossiling in Florida, offers tours that include walking or canoeing.  My son and I did our first excursion this way.  He sets his tour in different locations of the River.  This time we met in Wachula.  Mark gave a brief overview of the fossils we were expected to see and how to identify them. He also gave a lesson in panning etiquette so as not to dump filtered through remains in your neighbors digging area.  After the 20 minute speech, we preceded to head down stream in our Kayaks.   We stopped about on mile downstream from the put in and we began to dig.  Mark’s philosophy is to keep digging in the same area.  The deeper you dig the more likely you are to find the uncommon specimens.

Fossil Hunting with Screen and Shovel

Fossil Hunting with Screen and Shovel

For larger groups or independent types, another way to experience the Peace River is renting a canoe from the Canoe Outpost  in Arcadia, Florida.  They offer half day, full day, and overnight runs.  You can stop anywhere along the ride and pan for fossils until your hearts content. Just make sure you are back by 5:00 PM.  My son and I took some friends on this section after we were thoroughly schooled by Mr. Rentz. We could show our friends the ropes and were fairly adept ourselves at identifying the finds. We picked up the Fossilized Shark’s Teeth and Fossils Guide by Byron Fink at the Canoe Outpost to aid us in identifying our finds. This guide offers full color photos of the various sharks teeth, horse teeth, dugong, barracuda, tiger and other fossils commonly found in the Peace River.  The Megalodon Shark tooth is still always the key find on any excursion.  If you are not familiar with this monster shark, ask any child and they will fill you in!

Fossilized Shark's Teeth & Fossils: A Photo Indentification Guide by B. Fink

Fossilized Shark's Teeth & Fossils: A Photo Indentification Guide by B. Fink

Fossils we were able to identify included: Prehistoric Horse tooth, Snaggle Tooth, Alligator tooth, various sharks teeth, Megalodon tooth, turtle shell, dugong ribs, deer antler, sting ray, tiger and other misc bone specimens.

Inside the Fossilized Shark's Teeth & Fossils Guide

Inside the Fossilized Shark's Teeth & Fossils Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Peace River: Originating just south of Bartow, Florida where the Peace Creek and Saddle Creek merge together, the river flows 106 miles to flow through Polk Hardee, Desoto, and Charlotte Counties emptying into the Gulf of Mexico at Charlotte Harbor.

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

June 7, 2009

James E Grey Preserve, New Port Richey’s Best Kept Secret

 

Pavillion at James E Grey Preserve

Pavilion at James E Grey Preserve

James E Grey preserve is not easy to find but worth the hunt!  This preserve lies at the west end of a Plathe Road off Rowan Road. When you turn west onto this road, there will be a “No Outlet Sign. Not only does the road end, you must drive through an open gate that gives it the appearance of a private drive. You will have every inclination to turn around..but don’t!  Once you follow this drive the 80 acre preserve encompassing the Pithlachascotee (Cotee)
River is an oasis of old Florida Wilderness in the middle of suburban Pasco County.
At the trail head there is some parking, a pavilion, fishing dock and canoe put-in. On hot summer days I have seen teens use this area as a swimming hole diving off the Oak Tree Branches that reach over the river. Although this is not recommended. Like any other natural part of Florida, there are gators and water snakes that live in the tanic waters.

Kayaking the 'Cotee River

Kayaking the 'Cotee River

The park is the end of a Florida Canoe Trail that runs from Frances Park 4.5 mile down the river. The river runs slow but has many hairpin turns that will be challenging for the beginner but navigable. This section is very scenic with practically no development along the shores of the river.  Visitors can also kayak through the canals of the preserve, which has natural Florida ecosystems, hardwood hammock uplands and swamps.

Boardwalk at James E. Grey Preserve

Boardwalk at James E. Grey Preserve

The City of New Port Richey recently (2007) built a 1/2 mile board walk with a fishing pier that runs along the river. This section is classified as one of Florida’s Great Birding Trails.  Actually, the brown Birding Trail Signs on Rowan Road are the only indication that a park is back here.  The Park information sign boasts that 140 different species of birds has been spotted here.
The trails continues around the park and back to a picnic area that has restroom facilities, three tin roofed pavilions with grills and picnic tables, and a large parking area. There is a total of 2 miles of trails in the park for hiking and birding.

This is also a fun place for GEOCaching. I will not tell you which caches are here..but the coordinates of the park are: Lat. 28 deg 14 min N, Long. 82 deg 42 min W.   Here is my hint: Bring children…there will be some crawling in the dirt!

Hiking Trail at James E. Grey Preserve

Hiking Trail at James E. Grey Preserve

History: The Preserve is named after James E. Grey, a Pasco County Pioneer that died in 1985.   Mr. Grey was the first male child born in the City of New Port Richey after it was established in 1915.  He was considered a small hometown hero as the first Quarterback of the Football Team at Gulf  High School and, later, the Captain at the local volunteer Fire Department.

Wildflowers, James E Gray Preserve

Wildflowers, James E Gray Preserve

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

June 6, 2009

ATV Riding/Camping at Croom, Withlacoochee State Forrest, FL

Honda TRX90 Muddin'

Honda TRX90 Muddin'

Croom Offroad Motorcycle Area is located off SR 50 and I-275 on the outskirts of  Brooksville, Florida.  It is 2600 acres of land dedicated for ATV and Motor-Cross Bikes and it is great place for family riding.  The park was established in 1973 with the efforts of an organization called the Florida Trail Riders, who are advocates of responsible trail riding and have worked together with the Florida Department of Agriculture to establish safe riding practices.   The terrain is hardwood hammock, tight scrubs, and some wetlands during the rainy season.

Motorcross Bike at Croom

Motorcross Bike at Croom

Parts of it are abandoned mining areas pits that are now part of the  Withlacoochee State Forrest, and that makes for some interesting hill riding.  There is also a lake in the front that can be a huge mud pit during the dry season.   There is also a coral area that is fenced off for the little tikes that are learning how to ride.  Croom definitely has something for everyone. There are easy trails for beginners, wide trails full of whoops for the racer, tight winding trails that can challenge even the best rider, tight hill climbs in mine pit areas, and plenty of areas with water.

Honda Foreman 450 4x4, Croom

Honda Foreman 450 4x4, Croom

The camping area is near the back of the park and has amenities for RV hook ups.  During the winter months, this camping area fills up fast and they do not take reservations.  Although it is nice to wake up and start riding first thing in the morning without having to unload, the Silver Lake Campgroundoff Croom Rital Road is a nice second choice and is just minutes from the Motorcycle Area. For those of you who prefer not to camp, there is a Holiday Inn on SR 50 just outside the entrance of the park and are used to hosting riders.

Camping at Croom Motorcycle Area

Camping at Croom Motorcycle Area

Our Clan Camping at Croom

Our Clan Camping at Croom

We happen to live only an hour from here so naturally that is the place we frequent the most for ATV riding.  There are plenty of trails mapped out by the Forrest rangers, however, there  are also many trails cutting through the woods. This makes for fun riding but can get the average person temporarily disorientated.  The 2600 acres are fenced in so it hard to get lost.   It is easy to get confused and is not a bad idea to carry a GPS until you are familiar with the park. 

Despite the $45 annual riding fee, this area continues to be one of the most popular riding areas in the state.  (see the link below for rules and regulations on riding) 

Rules and Fees

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

June 2, 2009

“Totch” – A Life in the Everglades

Totch a Life in the Everglades

Totch a Life in the Everglades

Loren “Totch” G. Brown. His father was a skilled fisherman, hunter and gatherer. Totch learned to live off the sea and the land and survival was second nature to him.  Totch’s family lived off the land for many years in the Everglades traveling from one small island to the next. His father was skilled at building shelters and tools.  His mother was a trooper at keeping up camp and caring for small children in this harsh environment.  Sleeping under mosquito nets was second nature to them. Totch tells the tales of the early Everglades before development occurred in Collier County and before it became a National Park.  Not comfortable with civilian life, Totch still made his living skinning gators and selling them.  He spent many months outwitting the Forrest Rangers to hold on to his livelihood.  True stories written in Totch’s natural style and interesting reading for those interested in survival in the Wetlands.    I found this book both educational and intriguing. The stories and photos give a real life view of what life was like in the last frontier of Florida.

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

May 30, 2009

ATV Riding Family Fun in Big Cypress National Preserve, Fl

It was New Year’s Eve 2002 we decided to camp Big Cypress Swamp and take our kids out on their ATV’s.  This time of year is the dry season in Florida and the mosquitoes at their seasonal low which is considered normal activity in other parts of the United States.  The water in the swamps are also at their seasonal low and we were bound to get into less trouble.  We set up Camp on Lost Dog Prairie and immediately got busy looking for firewood. 

Camping on Lost Dog Prairie

Camping on Lost Dog Prairie

 A fire is a must out here. It is still the home of many wild animals including black bear, wild hogs, deer, rattlesnakes, and the endangered wild panther.  We sat around the fire sharing stories and anticipating tomorrows adventure of riding through the swamps.  

Riding Honda TRX90 on Prairie

Riding Honda TRX90 on Prairie

 Two of the younger kids had 90’s cc engines.  We let them ride around the Prairie but unfortunately they would not have enough power to take on the muddy areas.  After a hearty breakfast we packed our lunches and headed out. We had a Honda Foreman 450 4×4, 2 Honda 250’s, and one Polaris 500.

Muddin' in Big Cypress Swamp - Honda Foreman 450

Muddin' in Big Cypress Swamp - Honda Foreman 450

We had a great time riding!  We rode through water, we rode through mud, we got stuck, we got out…we got stuck again and could not get out.   

ATV Stuck in Mud, Big Cypress Swamp. FL

ATV Stuck in Mud, Big Cypress Swamp. FL

Luckily a local past time of riding through the swamp  with a   home -made   Swamp Buggy is still pretty popular. 

 

Swamp Buggy 1

Swamp Buggy 1

Swamp Buggy 2

Swamp Buggy 2

 

 

We watched a few swamp buggies pass by..too proud to ask for help..until we finally broke down and decided we weren’t getting the Polaris 500 out without some extra horse power.  We flagged down the next buggy and begged them to pull us out.  After hooking up the tow rope we were out in under a minute.  Nothing like a John Deere tractor engine on a homemade frame for heavy duty pulling!

ATV Rescue by Swamp Buggy

ATV Rescue by Swamp Buggy

After that we went back to camp to rest and get some dinner.  Hot Cajun sausage with homemade Seafood Gumbo hit the spot after a fun day of riding.  We rode back out on the prairie looking for firewood again to get us through the night.  After the sun went down we went out for a little night ride.  All the ATV’s had headlights.  At 12:00 AM we celebrated the New Year. ….by watching other camper’s fireworks and by sending off some of our own. 

The next morning  a storm was heading our way.  We had to get up and pack up camp quickly.  The rains came down just as we were pulling away.  A memorable time with some old friends and some new.  And family adventure we can talk about for a lifetime.

Big Cypress National Preserve Rules and Regulations for OHV use

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

May 18, 2009

Battle of the GPS’s: Magellan Triton 2000, Garmin 550T, Lowrance Endura Sierra, Bushnell Onix 400 & Delorme PN40

Shopping for GPS?  Confused on which model to get.  We have the heaviest hitters on the GPS market here in a head to head shootout!

Magellan Triton 2000

Magellan Triton 2000

Magellan Triton 2000– Needs to be commended for being the first to offer all of the whistles and bells!  The first to offer the full color touch screen with 2MP camera/picture viewer, MP3 Player, voice recorder, led flashlight, 3-axis electronic compass, barometer and more!  It also has an SD card expansion for storage of waypoints, routes, photos, geocaches, sounds, and songs.  Comes with built-in base maps with preprogrammed points of interest of the 48 states and world wide boundaries.  Magellan is now offering FREE download TOPO maps in order to keep up with the competition. The SD slot allows for downloads of more detailed maps such as National Geographic, topo maps, and marine cartography. It also has options for an external antennae and an audio jack to listen to your songs.  It’s WAAS capability offers 3 ft accuracy and is great for geocaching! MAP Price $499

Garmin Oregon 550t GPS

Garmin Oregon 550t GPS

Garmin Oregon 550t –  The Garmin answer to the multi-gadget GPS proves to the the heaviest hitter yet!  Improving on the already top dog Garmin Oregon 400t, the 550t full color touchscreen boast a 3.2 MP camera/picture viewer with 4x digital zoom and automatic geotagging of each photo. This will always lead you back to the exact spot of the photo. Photos can be stored online at www.Garmin.com and uploaded with Picasa.  With 850 MB of internal storage and a micros SD card expansion slot, you will never need to miss a photo opportunity. For navigation it comes with detailed preloaded topo maps of the 48 states and worldwide basemap, 3 axis digital compass for 3-D views, barometric altimeter, and high sensitivity WAAS capability for those hard to reach places.  It also capacity for up to 5000 geocache locations and 2000 waypoints which can be shared wirelessly with friends that have either the Colorado or Oregon series GPS. All this comes protected in a IPX7 waterproof rated rugged casing. MAP $599 (not available until July ’09)

Bushnell Onix 400 GPS

Bushnell Onix 400 GPS

Bushnell Onix 400  – For those who travel in weather sensitive areas. This GPS is the first of its kind!  It boasts satellite imagery, XM satellite radio and XM Weather Navigator.  With a subscription to XM Satellite Weather, you get real time weather information and updates. Great feature for those whole like to travel in areas where the weather is highly volatile..ie Mt McKinley.  Its layering ability allows you to download a satellite photo and layer topo map, compass, navigational aids and XM services on a single screen with a feature called  TruView NavigationLayer.  NEXRAD weather data down-linked from XM NavWeather can also be layered over a georeferenced satellite map of your location.  This can help you pinpoint those nasty storms or areas of high winds.  The subscription to XM NavWeather also allows access to over 170 channels of XM satellite featuring radio news, sports, talk, entertainment and music.  Built with rugged rubberized armor offers IPX7 waterproof protection. It also has a high gain SIRF GPS receiver, digital compass, and embedded 128 Micro SD Card.  MAP Price $499

Lowrance Endura Sierra GPS

Lowrance Endura Sierra GPS

Lowrance Endura Sierra – This is the Lowrance answer to the Garmin 400t with full color touchscreen and built in detailed topo maps, MP3 Player/voice record, picture viewer, 3 axis digital compass, and barometric altimeter.   The topo maps are detailed with hill shade, topo graphic contours, trails and points of interests.   Its has 4 GB built in memory and 32 GB Micro SD card slot allows the flexibility to directly accept GPX trails and geocaches, as well as POIs from web communities or other sources.  Speaker, headphone jack, and microphone all built into waterproof IXP7 rated casing.  It is also capable of turn-by-turn directions with optional purchase.  MAP price $499 (available in July ’09)

Delorme PN 40 GPS

Delorme PN 40 GPS

Delorme PN 40–  If satellite imagery is your preference this unit is blazingly fast with high-sensitivity 32-channel STMicroelectronics Cartesio chipset. It boasts a NEW Dual-core processor for instantaneous map and satellite imagery redraws.  This allows are downloading large aerial images files and works well on maps with multiple layers.  This unit supports SDHC high-capacity SD cards (up to 32 GB) for fast and direct map transfer from the included maps discs.
Its 3-axis digital compass along with a 360 deg raster rotation allows you to view roads, buildings, trees, rocks etc as you rotate around or drive, bike, or hike down the path. It also comes with barometric altimeter, 1 GB internal memory that hold up to 100o way-points. Boasting itself and a pure hybrid, the unit comes with software with both detailed topo and Street maps and has access to up-to-date USPS Quad maps, NOAA Nautical Charts, and high resolution aerial  imagery for yearly subscription of only $29.95.  This rugged little unit it also waterproof IPX7 rated and is a lot of bang for its buck!  MAP $399

About the Author: Barbara is the owner of  an on-line store Riverbanks  Outdoor Store for several years and has frequently engaged in outdoor sports for years including camping, mountain biking, whitewater rating, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.    Barbara also hosts a blog Riverbanks Adventure Forum that focuses on product reviews and adventure vacations.

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